Monday, June 27, 2011

Simple isn't easy

I've been rolling a word around in my head since yesterday afternoon.


I don't think I'm the only one who has it on my mind. There are talk shows, magazines, countless articles...all dedicated to this notion of simplicity.

It started after a conversation with my neighbor about desiring to simplify things in our lives.

It's a buzzword. A trend. A fad?? But it reflects a desire, I think, but is anyone really certain what that desire is for??

Does it mean...being more organized? Because my Real Simple magazine has all kinds of ideas for how to organize my stuff. And I really like their ideas. They're cute, kitchsy, "use this for that!" little ideas...but when I organize my stuff, I still step back and have a lot of.....stuff. And I don't feel very simplified at all.

Does it mean....being "green?" Because yeah, it does do us a world of good to "greenify," but in doing so, you actually can create more work for yourself (organic gardening, making your own cleaning products, whatever). That doesn't feel all that simple.

Does it mean....being less involved? Less busy? Because that requires me to step down, say no, back out, whatever it takes to scrape stuff off my plate. And yeah, sometimes that goes over like a fart in church, depending on who you have to tell 'no.'

So what is this, this simple life of which we speak?? I'm really posing the question, not in a provocative, buy-my-book-and-I'll-tell-you-the-answer kind of way, but I really want to know: what do we mean when we say we want to live more simply?

Seems to me that anything simple requires at least some degree of sacrifice, and are we people who are willing to make those sacrifices? To let go of what owns us, whether it's our *stuff* or our habits or our need to be busy and feel fulfilled? The more I think about it, the more (to me, at least) I realize that a great deal of purging needs to occur - in my home, in my heart, maybe even in some of my relationships. But there's stuff I want to hang on to. Things, memories, bad habits, patterns...well then, simplifying doesn't sound so chic when you put it that way. Never mind. And have you noticed, in order to be so fashionably simple, you have to buy a lot of expensive stuff to look the part???

And simple should never be equated with easy, yet I wonder how often it is. Ask any Amish person. They work like we don't even know how to spell work, yet their lives are so....unfettered, at least not by the things that burden us. There's so much STUFF that is supposed to simplify our lives but we're slaves to them. Cell phones and laptops and texting and all these weird little things that are supposed to make things quick and easy and carefree....but I don't feel free when I have them. I feel stuffed. Like at Thanksgiving and you've gone over the edge. Just stuffed, the kind of stuffed that really makes me want to reverse the process and get. it. out. so I don't feel so weighed DOWN.

Simple. Simple?

I think our world is starting to realize we've gone overboard on a whole lot of stuff and it's not doing us a whole lot of good. The simple solution is to close Pandora's Box but you'll find it's not so easy.

Ask the rich man who asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus' answer was simple: get rid of everything you have, give it to those who need it, and follow me. Watch the slump of the man's shoulders as he walks away. The price was too great to pay. He treasured his stuff more than he treasured his soul.

I treasure my ______ more than I treasure my soul. More than I treasure my Savior. It's not. Easy.

So if you're in a pondering mood, let your mind marinate in this. What is required of me, of you, of anyone, to simplify? To strip out the buzzy-buzzword-ness of it, and actually ask, what needs to go? What's mastering me? What habits, thought patterns, whatever need to be severed at the root and pulled OUT in order to bring true freedom, simplicity, and perhaps even ease??

It's more complicated than it sounds, isn't it?? ;)


Anonymous said...

I think simple is different for everybody. Like the man who asked Jesus how to have eternal life - for him it was getting rid of all his possessions. For someone else it may be entirely different - maybe it means to forgive someone or kick a bad habit or right some wrongs. What a great post. It's got me thinking...what do I need to do to simplify?

pjmcclard said...

Awhile ago, to simplify and prioritize my day/life I wrote the paradigm down of person, partner, parent, paritioner, provider, player down each day with what needed to be done in each area. I couldn't go on to the next until I did the God ordered order first. It kept things simple & clear. I felt purposed and on target. I should start this again.